Let's Trade Michael and Delmon Young Because I Don't Like Them Very Much

Let's Trade Michael and Delmon Young Because I Don't Like Them Very Much

Despite the rebuild-at-all-costs strategy supported, implicitly or explicitly, by many Phillies fans as the 2013 trade deadline approaches, I have a great deal of ambivalence about the idea of trading Chase Utley or Cliff Lee. If you can get back an absolutely dynamite set of prospects for either, I guess you have to, but as many have reminded, we traded Cliff for young'ns once before and it didn't work out so well, and if it's only a similar package of B-minus/C-plus-level talent that either will return, I don't see the point in jettisoning them just for the sake of doing so. I'd rather enjoy their remaining days as Phillies, even on a losing team, then ship them out just because "there's no point in keeping them around." I like both players immensely, and without there being much reward to losing them, that's point enough for me. (Besides, as Jonah Keri recently pointed out, the team's impending new TV deal means they have motivation to try to stay good and likeable short-term, which trading those guys would make much more difficult.)

I feel a similar, though less extreme level of conflict when it comes to many of the other Fightins rumored to be on the trading block. Jimmy Rollins certainly is getting paid a lot to do not all that much for the team at the moment, but will a diminished shortstop in his mid-30s fetch anything in return worth even the sentimental loss of the longest-tenured Phillie in decades? Same for Carlos Ruiz, currently mired in his worst offensive stretch of his Philly career (saying something, considering his first few seasons) and unlikely to be valued more by any other team than by the Phils, where he still has some residual fan-favorite status and arguably deserves the chance to hit his way out of this megaslump before entering free agency. And Jonathan Paplebon...well, he's also paid way too much, but having a closer that only sucks sporadically (and occasionally says amusingly dumb, obnoxious things) is a nice luxury. I'd rather have him than not have him, if there's not all that much to be gained by not having him.

But there's two players on this team about whom I feel no such ambivalence: Michael and Delmon Young. I would gladly ship both the Young Brothers out tomorrow for a 28-year-old Double A reliever and a Bag of Peanuts to be Named Later, solely to avoid my having to watch them play another game in the Red and White.

To be fair, both Michael and Delmon Young have come basically as advertised. Michael Young is a Professional Hitter on the wrong side of 35 who can't defend a lick and would probably come in third in a 100-yard dash against Pat Burrell and one of the "Thriller" zombies. Delmon Young is a prolific (though not old or respected enough to be Professional) hitter who doesn't walk, certainly doesn't run and gives up at least one hit in the field for every two he gets at the plate. These are not surprising things; we knew pretty much all of them when the two were acquired in the off-season.

What we didn't know--what I didn't quite know, anyway--was how unwatchable the two would be as everyday players. The reflexive wincing that would soon come with every grounder they hit, knowing there's not a place deep enough on God's green infield for them to have a chance of legging it out. With every time a sharp grounder was hit in Michael's direction, or a sinking liner in Delmon's, knowing that they were too slow and poorly coordinated to dive for them, but that they'd probably try anyway. With every time they came up with men on and one out, and you just hoped they'd strike or fly out rather than hitting into a double play. Lotta wincing, all told.

It might sound unfair to harp on both players' lack of athleticism and poor defensive instincts when speed and defense was never considered a strength of either, and both players might not be so terrible as DHs in the American League, where they probably belong. But it's not like either is exactly providing Miguel Cabrera production at the plate to make up for it--their slash lines are almost identically mediocre, Michael hitting .277/.342/.402 and Delmon hitting .266/.312/.402. Michael's decent OBP--his .342 is somehow a team-high--means he's at least a net positive on offense, but Baseball-Reference has his defense being such a negative that he's still a sub-replacement player on the whole. (Delmon only breaks even on offense, and defense...yeah.)

Bottom line: Not only are these players miserable to watch, they're arguably actively hurting this team's chances to win games, thus making their dismissal an obvious priority for this trade deadline. Could we get much for either? Probably not. Could we find a team at least willing to take one of them off our hands? It's not impossible. Some American League team looking for offensive depth could probably make use of one or both Youngs, particularly Michael, whose sort of Veteran Presence is always desired for a Veteran Playoff Push. (Supposedly M. Young gives great Clubhouse, though apparently such camaraderie building has little effect on a sub-.500 team such as the Phils.) Delmon might be a little tougher sell, but hey, he was ALCS MVP just last year. Maybe we can convince some contending team that once the calendar turns October, Delmon's clutchiness will invariably shine through. Worth a shot, anyway.

Chase and Cliff will likely pass through the trade deadline still wearing Phillies uniforms. I wouldn't be surprised if Jimmy, Chooch and Paps did so as well. And as disappointing as it may be to some or all if we pass up an obvious chance to jump-start the rebuilding process in the name of playing out the crappiest Phillies season in over a decade and trying again next year, if we could somehow get to Thursday without anyone named Young on our roster, I'd have to consider it at least a partial success. I'll never be so happy to see Michael Martinez and Steve Sudsorf written into our everyday lineup.

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

DETROIT -- Brandon Dubinsky scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the surging Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight game, 4-1 over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

Lukas Sedlak got his first NHL goal for the Blue Jackets, who have earned at least a point in 12 of their last 13 games. Cam Atkinson contributed a short-handed goal in the first period for Columbus.

Dylan Larkin's power-play goal in the second was the only scoring of the night for the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets.

Sam Gagner scored into an empty net with 13.9 seconds remaining (see full story). 

Staal scores in 6th round of SO to lift Wild over Oilers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Eric Staal scored in the sixth round of a shootout and the Minnesota Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Friday night.

Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker scored in regulation for Minnesota, which has won three straight.

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves. He entered with a league-best .946 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average.

Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had goals for the Oilers, whose four-game losing streak began with a 2-1 home overtime loss to the Wild last Sunday.

Staal scored on a backhand deke before Nugent-Hopkins fired wide in the sixth round (see full story). 

Raanta, Rangers beat Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime
CHICAGO -- Nick Holden scored 55 seconds into overtime, Antti Raanta made 26 saves against his former team and the New York Rangers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Friday night.

Derek Stepan passed from the boards to a streaking Holden in the middle of the ice, and he beat Scott Darling on the stick side for his fourth goal of the season.

Darling was going for his second straight shutout while subbing for injured starter Corey Crawford but had to settle for another solid performance.

Raanta, who made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2013 and played for the Blackhawks for two seasons before he was traded to New York, improved to 15-0-3 in 20 career appearances at the United Center.

The 27-year-old Raanta had 17 saves in Thursday's 2-1 victory at Winnipeg, and coach Alain Vigneault opted to give him a second straight start over Henrik Lundqvist because of his recent play and his success in Chicago (see full story).

Oshie, Johansson, Grubauer lift Caps over Sabres 4-1
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson each scored a goal, Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Friday night for their third straight win.

Jakub Vrana and John Carlson also scored, helping Washington beat Buffalo for the third time in 15 days.

Kyle Okposo scored and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost three of their last four.

Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the second period when he lifted a shot from the right edge of the crease past Lehner. Jay Beagle drew two defenders into the corner and sent the puck back to a wide open Oshie for his ninth goal of the season (see full story). 

Flyers-Stars 5 things: Streaking like it's 2002?

Flyers-Stars 5 things: Streaking like it's 2002?

Flyers (16-10-3) vs. Stars (11-11-6)
1 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

Remember when it was a fight for the Flyers to simply sew together back-to-back wins?

Prior to this run, they had done it just twice in the first 22 games.

Now, they’re the hottest team in the NHL, winners of seven straight and trying to make it eight on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the Wells Fargo Center.

Here are five things you need to know for the matchup:

1. The great eight?
Jeremy Roenick, Mark Recchi, John LeClair and Eric Desjardins.

Roman Cechmanek and Brian Boucher.

These are just some of the players that were wearing Flyers jerseys when the team last won eight consecutive games, back on Jan. 6-19, 2002.

It’s worth mentioning, before the 2004-05 season, winning streaks were a bit more challenging with a tie being the result if overtime went scoreless. The extra session was also not 3-on-3, like it is now.

Still, what the current Flyers are doing is impressive. They’ve gone to the shootout only once over the seven-game spurt and have outscored the opposition by 10 goals, 27-17.

2. Raffl winners
Dave Hakstol has called Michael Raffl a big-bodied, straight-line forward, which is certainly not off the mark.

But from time to time, Raffl will show the deceptive skill side of his game.

He did it Thursday night to win the Flyers’ 6-5 affair over the Oilers in the final minute and a half of regulation for his second game-winner over the last three contests.

"Raf has this stutter step that's undercover speedy," Steve Mason said postgame Thursday (see story). "He used it in Nashville to get a big goal and then here tonight.

"It looks like he's going to stop fully up, but he finds another gear and he really adds another element to that line that brings physical play.

"He has that sneaky talent, too, that can make you pay."

Raffl is quietly making teams pay. The Flyers are 4-0-2 in games that he scores a goal. Despite missing eight games because of injury, the 28-year-old Austrian is on pace for around 20 goals.

That’s much-valued secondary scoring and complementary play.

3. Not so bright
Before reeling off seven straight wins, the Flyers were in a similar spot to which the Stars are in now.

Dallas, which finished 50-23-9 last season — best in the Western Conference — after starting 19-5-0, can’t find consistency through 28 games this season. The Stars have won back-to-back games just once thus far and goaltending has been an issue as Dallas is surrendering an NHL-worst 3.18 goals per game.

The Stars do not lack offensive firepower, however. Center Tyler Seguin is tied for second in the NHL with 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists), while linemate Jamie Benn isn’t far behind at 24 (eight goals, 16 assists).

Also, veteran forward Jason Spezza is coming off a three-point game (one goal, two assists) in Dallas’ 5-2 win over the Predators.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: We’ve got to go Jakub Voracek after the winger’s one-goal, three-assist performance on Thursday night. Voracek has been an absolute monster on the seven-game winning streak, posting 11 points with three goals and eight assists for a plus-6 rating.

Stars: It’s hard not to say Seguin, a dynamic player who always gives the Flyers trouble. His 21 career points (nine goals, 12 assists) against the orange and black are his second most versus any team.

5. This and that
• Mason is on a career-best six-game winning streak in which he’s posted a 2.27 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. Since Nov. 12, Mason is 9-3-1 with a 2.34 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.

• Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen is a dreadful 1-10-3 lifetime against the Flyers with a 3.49 goals-against average and .891 save percentage, while backup Antti Niemi is 4-1-0 with 1.48 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.

• Dallas has won its last three meetings with the Flyers by a combined score of 7-3.

• The Stars have lost 11 of 15 on the road.

• Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov has four points (two goals, two assists) in his last four games.